Opinion: The value of getting older

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash
FIVEaa's Matthew Pantelis, after an awkward restaurant experience, shares his thoughts on the value of getting older.

I recently walked into a restaurant for lunch where a helpful young lady invited me to order my meal from my table, with an incentive of a 20% discount.

“That’s great”, I said, thinking they must not want queues of patrons lining up at the counter and offer the discount as a means of embracing the technology. So I sat down, scanned the barcode and placed my order but to my surprise, a discount failed to appear on the bill.

The food and drinks came and later the same waitress came to clean up the table.

“The discount you mentioned didn’t appear on my phone when I ordered”, I said.

“Oh?”, she asked. “It should automatically pop up when you include your Seniors Card number.”

Slight pause.

Yeah, nah. Not old enough yet, love, so I thanked her for her service and off she went. Let’s face it, at 18, she very likely thinks Justin Bieber is old.

On reflection, while I can certainly wait, I look forward to applying for a Seniors Card. After all, how can one not be excited about cheaper electricity, free public transport and pharmacy store discounts?

As a teenager, I’d compare my age to sporting identities, footballers, cricketers, tennis players and the like who always seemed to be some five to 10 years older and I’d think there was still time to get to that elite level. I’m not sure how, as I wouldn’t even bother to run for a bus but it was always nice to think I could’ve turned to sport as a career, if I had the motivation. Then one day, my age matched theirs and eventually surpassed it, so that dream, somewhat thankfully, faded.

Years have passed and I still don’t run for a bus and if I did, I’m sure I’d lope as gracefully as a 3-legged giraffe with a dicky ankle. Next, I matched up my age with business-people and politicians who at the time were older and again, I’d think there’s plenty of time to gain the skills to climb that greasy pole.

“Those of us fortunate enough to have reached our 50’s know age really is just a number. We are comfortable in our skin, having made our mistakes and learning along the way how to fix them.”

Matthew Pantelis

Now, I’ve overtaken many in age and am level-pegging with others except, of course, Joe Biden but on that score, Methuselah, at some 900 biblical years old is still younger than Joe. Heck, the planet is younger than Joe.

US Presidents aside, those of us fortunate enough to have reached our 50’s know age really is just a number. We are comfortable in our skin, having made our mistakes and learning along the way how to fix them. We’ve made friends, lost friends and made new friends. We’ve raised a family and become better people through parenthood, won promotions through hard work and paid off a mortgage, or are close to it. We’ve learned we don’t know the level of pain another person may be feeling and to treat others as if we are the others. We know relationships constantly need work and there’s sometimes more satisfaction in enjoying a coffee and watching the world pass by on a sunny day than sipping a scotch in a room full of strangers yelling at each other over blaring music. We know education is important but not the be all and end all.

People say these are some of the lessons we should be able to pass on to our younger selves, but I think far greater value comes from living the experience.

Yes, the 50’s may come with reading glasses, increasingly dodgy knees and a growing interest in superannuation statements but what we gain along the way is, in the words of the ad, priceless and I’m happy with the value of that without any level of discount.

Words by: Matthew Pantelis

Host of Adelaide’s #1 Evenings Programme, 8pm-Midnight on FIVEaa



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